Our goal is to encourage our readers to be safe in their every day lives; whether they are working or doing other activities. Every once in a while, we enjoy presenting articles about health issues as well, because staying in good health allows us to enjoy life. If we don’t feel well, we aren’t going to do a very good job for our employer. And not doing a good job can compromise our safety as well as the safety of others.
“In the U.S., we eat more than twice as much salt per day as we really need,” said Dr. Lee Goldman of Columbia University. “We found that increased salt intake in the U.S. is now as big a problem as cholesterol, almost as big a problem as smoking,” Dr. Goldman added.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that cutting out just three grams of salt per day could prevent anywhere from 54,000 to 99,000 heart attacks and 32,000 to 66,000 strokes. Three grams of salt equals ½ teaspoon. The recommended daily salt intake is 3.7 to 5.8 grams. In the United States, the average male consumes over 10 grams – or almost two teaspoons each day, and the average female over seven grams.
The vast majority of salt in the American diet comes from processed foods, not from people adding it themselves. Our bodies need a certain amount of salt, as its ingredients, sodium and chloride regulate the body’s fluid balance. The body can require only 200 milligrams per day to stay healthy, depending on exercise and work conditions. The National Academy of Science recommends at least 500 mg but less than 2300 mg per day. We all know that too much salt is harmful to your health. Researchers say that cutting one gram per day could be more cost effective than using medications to lower blood pressure in all those persons with hypertension.
How can we cut the salt? Start with salty snacks. The three most popular ones in America are loaded with it; potato and tortilla chips have almost half a gram in one serving and popcorn has nearly three quarters of a gram. According to the New England Journal of Medicine’s report, probably 75% to 80% of dietary salt in the U.S. is “hidden” in processed foods. Some fast food meals have almost three times the amount of salt needed in a day. In addition to flavoring, salt adds to food preservation, so things such as soups, packaged meals, cottage cheese and packaged snacks contain high sodium levels.
To stay healthy, check the sodium content on food labels. Use pepper, spices, herbs or lemon juice as seasonings instead of too much salt. When eating a meal in a restaurant, I am guilty of sprinkling salt on my food before I even taste it! But I am going to use this information to cut down on my salt intake, in order to keep my heart a little healthier. I hope you will, too!